75

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
What I regret is that all of the expertise lavished on this movie couldn't have been put at the service of a more intelligent story about real firemen, real working conditions, real heroism, and the real craft and art of fire-fighting.
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75

Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
Fire, as this movie makes clear, is nothing if not photogenic, and Howard has done a beautiful job of conjuring both its danger and its deceptive, primal beauty.
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60

TV Guide

Not only do the firefighting scenes evoke a feeling of gritty authenticity, but the fire itself really does seem to be alive.
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60

Variety

Visually, [the film] often is exhilarating, but it's shapeless and dragged down by corny, melodramatic characters and situations.
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50

The New Republic

By Stanley Kauffmann
It's sad to see two talented actresses, Rebecca de Mornay and Jennifer Jason Leigh, wasted in puppet parts. [17 June 1991, p.28]
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50

The New York Times

By Elvis Mitchell
While Mr. Howard ably maintains a strong forward momentum, Backdraft often feels directionless beneath its overlay of frantic activity. One clear story line would have been worth more than a series of subplots and tangents.
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40

Austin Chronicle

Absolutely marvelous special effects are the salvation and the curse of this movie.
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40

Chicago Reader

By Jonathan Rosenbaum
Howard, as usual, seems bent on mixing genres to make several movies at once--monster movie, crime movie, coming-of-age movie, and action-adventure movie (among others)--yielding an overall narrative that's not boring but not especially suspenseful or focused either.
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30

Washington Post

By Desson Thomson
Director Howard is so mesmerized by the flames, he squirts formulaic lighter fluid over everything. A conflagration of hyped-up movie cliches, courtesy of George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic special effects shop, scalds your face.
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25

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

By Rick Groen
The flames sure look real, but everything else in Backdraft, director Ron Howard's inflatable ode to firefighters, seems about as genuine as a plastic log in an electric hearth. Howard's particular type of schmaltz works well enough in small dabs on comic canvases (Splash, Cocoon, even Parenthood), but pumped up to heroic proportions, the sentimentality is just plain silly - in this case, cheap melodrama on a two-hour jag.
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38 out of 100
Generally unfavorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.